In this open access article, Emma Crewe explains her approach to undertaking ethnographic research. The purpose of this article is to consider the challenges, advantages and limits of ethnographic approaches to the study of parliament. Challenges in the study of political institutions emerge because they can be fast-changing, difficult to gain access to, have starkly contrasting public and private faces and, in the case of national parliaments, are intimately connected to rest of the nation. Research in parliament requires clear questions but an emergent approach for answering them – working out your assumptions, deciding on the most appropriate methods depending on what wish to find out, and continually reviewing progress. Its great strengths are flexibility, ability to encompass wider historical and cultural practices into the study, getting under the surface and achieving philosophical rigour. Rigour is partly achieved through reflexivity.